Olivia Cigna

"Happy Mind, Happy Life."

WEEK 13 (4/12-4/14)

Behind Closed Doors Documentary

This documentary was very hard to watch. But, it was important to watch. The way in which it followed real stories of real women experiencing domestic violence was extremely eye-opening. The most common theme I saw within the documentary was that even though these women experienced an unmentionable amount of pain and suffering, they still had some sort of emotional connection with their partner. For example, after Helen’s partner beat her, she still met up with him weeks later and risked the result of the trial to see him. She described these feelings as a “drug” and that she is still in love with him despite his violence towards her. This detail is so hard to grasp. She watched this man beat her and ruin her life, but she still feels love for him. This is a true dilemma that women face because of the connections they create with these people throughout their relationships. Additionally, Sabrina dealt with this same issue when she thought about how she would react to the result of her trial. She explained that if he does go to jail, she would be happy that he was getting what’s due, but she couldn’t help being sad to see him go down for any length of time. She then questions, “Why would I be sad after what he did to me?” She fell in love with this man, and it is hard to just “turn off” that love. I believe this is one of the reasons that women put up with and hide this violence often.


Inscribing Gender on the Body
1. According to the article, how and in what ways is gender inscribed on the body?

2. Gender performances are not only what we ‘do’, they are also what we ‘become’.


3. How is gender performativity constrained by gender norms?

4. How are bodies read as normal/abnormal in relation to gender?

5. In what way is the body socially constructed?

6. How does the media contribute to the objectification of the body?

7. Do ‘body projects’ allow us to have freedom of our bodies?

8. How do ideals of beauty and health shape constructions of the body?

9. Is ‘fat’ a feminist issue?

10. How do particular types of bodies relate to social, economic, and political power?


With reference to the two readings you have, please write at least a one-page reflection on privilege – thinking about your own invisible power/privilege – and the ways you advance or are disadvantage because of some of the categories that we’ve been exploring. In particular, pay attention to the ways those oppressions/categories intersect for you.

In more recent years, I have been extremely aware of my privilege, especially the privilege that comes with being white. In addition to my race, I am aware of my privilege in terms of my social class/status. I have been aware of these privileges because of the prevalence of the BLM movement, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the other events that are currently shaping our historical moment. This past year has made my invisible power/privilege a bit more visible to me. It is one thing to recognize my privilege, but the next step is to do something about it. I have been more active in these current movements by participating in BLM protests, donating to BLM organizations, supporting small businesses – especially black-owned ones. In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am a college student that has been able to still live at college and attend in-person classes. In addition to this, I was able to nanny this past summer and keep a steady income. Even if I hadn’t been able to work, my parents both work in the medical field so we were never faced with the difficulty of losing income during this pandemic. My parents were needed during this pandemic now more than ever. I had their financial support behind me and a roof over my head that was never threatened by the inability to make payments. Additionally, throughout the heaviness of the pandemic, my parents were both healthy enough to travel to the grocery store and continue with their normal operations. I was young and healthy enough to do this as well. The only major sacrifice I had to make was limiting the time I spent with my boyfriend. These realizations have caused me to find that I am extremely privileged to have gone through a pandemic and multiple social movements with little impact on my life. I identify with most of the statements found within this week’s readings, “White Privilege and Male Privilege” and “Cisgender Privilege,” but I thought it would be extremely important to examine my privilege in terms of what is happening in the world right now. While I may feel being a woman is a disadvantage and I’m often discriminated against for this reason, I am conscious of the idea of intersectionality, which means I do not feel the full weight of this discrimination because I am a white woman who is straight. I can easily identity with the statements in these two passages and almost feel shameful for being able to do so. However, I reassure myself that at least being aware of this privilege is a step in the right direction; what I do with this knowledge is what matters.

WEEK 12 (4/5-4/7)

Feminism & COVID
“The Coronavirus Is a Disaster for Feminism” The Atlantic

Sadly, there have always been issues surrounding the division of labor, inside and outside the home, and the way in which it affects women and men differently. Like this article highlights, the COVID-19 pandemic just “magnifies all existing inequalities.” During the height of the pandemic, with most institutions shutting down, parents were faced with the burden of childcare (and possibly elder care), causing it to mostly fall on the backs of the mothers and allowing the issue of gender division to grow. I have seen some of this firsthand. In my family, my mother makes more money than my father and works more hours than him per week. Additionally, my parents’ jobs were never lost (they are physical therapists, so essential workers) and my sister and I are both in our 20s, so childcare was not an issue. However, I spent most of the pandemic (March-August) nannying for a family that had a very different situation than mine. I think it is ironic that most of the childcare in the family I nannied for fell to women. For example, when I was not nannying the 40 hours a week I was asked to, the children’s mother was watching the kids because she was a part-time occupational therapist and her husband worked full-time. So, like this article mentions, “women are more likely to be the lower earners, meaning their jobs are considered a lower priority when disruptions come along.” She was the one to relieve me every single day at 5pm. She was also the one to look after them on the weekends, and even had to take some time off to be with them when I wasn’t available. While I was paid for my duties, this mother was not. So, it felt pretty selfish receiving a paycheck each week, knowing she did the exact same thing as me when I left at 5pm every day, except she wasn’t paid. I think this pandemic has really highlighted the fact that we like to tell ourselves that we have grown from the 1950s attitude of men being the breadwinners and women being the homemakers, but really, this system is still in place. And it’s sad.

WEEK 10 (3/22-3/24)

Open Topic: NCAA Unequal Treatment
Just this past week, in the midst of March Madness, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) faced an overwhelming amount of criticism after being exposed by Sedona Prince, a female basketball player, who posted a video on her social media. 

NCAA apologises to women's basketball teams for weight room differences -  ABC News

Sedona Prince posted this video on several of her social media accounts, showing the “weight room” (pictured above) that the women athletes were given compared to the expansive weight room men are provided with. The video shows that women are simply given a rack of a few weights, while men receive a room filled with dozens of weight machines and lifting equipment. The video also explains that after seeing the video, the NCAA came out with a statement that the women do not have much weight equipment due to lack of space, which Sedona clearly disproves in the video. Since this video has been released, the NCAA has publicly apologized for this unequal treatment and provided women with a fairer weight room, seen here and below.

New NCAA Women's Weight Room Revealed in San Antonio

NCAA officials acknowledged what they called a “blemish” in their tournament efforts.

“We fell short this year in what we’ve been doing to prepare,” Lynn Holzman, the NCAA’s vice president of women’s basketball, told journalists Friday. She said the NCAA was “actively working” on improving the women’s facilities, including exercise facilities and food.

Taken from an article from The Washington Post

My thoughts…

When things like this come to light, it makes me sad and shocked to see that unequal treatment between men and women is still so prevalent today. Women athletes are still actively discriminated against. One of the hardest parts for me to come to terms with is the women that are part of the administration of the NCAA that knew of this treatment and did not try to change it until after the world found out about it. The statement above comes from the vice president of NCAA women’s basketball, a woman herself, who explains that they “fell short.” How can we, as a society, fight for women’s rights when not all women are on board? This act of “falling short” resulted in just another public example of the ways in which women’s athleticism, strength, and power are not legitimized because men are the only ones prioritized. It is disgusting and upsetting that this is still happening in 2021.

WEEK 9 (3/15-3/17)

Subversive body image media hunt and response 
What would be a gender subversion to you? Can you find an example/image and write about why it is a subversive image? Connect with some of the ideas we’ve been discussing in class and in the readings.

I discovered these two images in this video included in an email from Dr. Campbell. These two images play on the idea of strength in relation to men and women.  They also create a “gender subversion” in which the “predetermined roles” or “attitudes” of men and women are switched. The first photo depicts a woman next to a bottle, indicating that it is a surprise that women can open this bottle without assistance or struggle. This implies that women are weak and inferior in relation to men. In the second photo, the genders are switched, and the photo depicts the shock that a man is capable of opening this bottle on his own. Therefore, this displays the man as inferior and weak. However, this switch just looks and seems unnatural because of the way gender as a social construct has been ingrained into our minds. It allows us to see gender for what it really is, like Judith Butler discusses. Our class readings over the past few weeks have touched on this same idea of gender being shaped by the media and our culture, “Gender performances are not only what we ‘do’; they are also who we ‘are’ or ‘become.’ This implies that we are what we do, and what we do is shaped by cultural ideas, social practices, and structured institutions that give those everyday actions meaning” (Shaw & Lee 181). Unfortunately, this just reveals the world we live in, where so much of what we think about ourselves is shaped by other people and other opinions, including gender and gender stereotypes.

WEEK 8 (3/8-3/10)

Documentary: Miss Representation & ePortfolio quick fire response
Free write for 10-15 mins, drawing on some of the ideas we’ve been exploring in the reading this past couple of weeks, as well as the class discussion on Monday. In particular, think about what the documentary is arguing, and think about how we can address inequities given their thesis.

This documentary, Miss Representation, argues that women are not properly represented in the media; therefore, they’re misrepresented. The documentary explains that this misrepresentation of women occurs in leadership positions/politics, in movies and the film industry, in terms of their bodies, etc. There was one quote that I felt summed up the argument of this documentary very well; it reads, “If the cards are so heavily stacked against young women, how are they supposed to achieve their potential and become leaders? We can’t turn a blind eye to how the media impacts our culture and harms both our daughters and our sons.” Similarly, much of this discussion of the media deals with the way in which women’s bodies are represented. Women often appear as sexual objects or body props within movies and film, but this sexualization extends outside of the film industry as well, such as when they discussed the clothing of women news anchors. This entire discussion of the media’s influence on these behaviors and concepts is completely relevant to the discussions we had in class and in our readings: the body as a social construct. These goals of a attaining or showing off a “thin waist” or “big chest” are not natural; they are ideas that have shaped our thinking based on the media and way in which women’s’ bodies have been outwardly represented. As our reading for this week mentions, “our understanding of the body cannot exist outside of the society that gives it meaning” (Shaw & Lee 184). Additionally, “what our bodies mean and how they are experienced is intimately connected to the meanings and practices of the society in which we reside” (184). In other words, our visions and feelings about what a woman’s body should look like are entirely shaped by the society and culture we live in. This is clearly seen in this documentary, through the toxic society (created from the media) that has enforced restrictive and unrealistic body types for women. This is how women’s bodies become socially constructed.

WEEK 7 (3/1-3/3)

Open Topic: Taylor Swift and "Ginny & Georgia"
For this week’s open topic, I thought I would comment on a current event that has been flooding my social media. 

A new Netflix series, “Ginny & Georgia,” recently released an episode in which a line from one of the characters read, “What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” After hearing this line, Taylor published a tweet in which she called the joke “lazy” and “deeply sexist” because of the way it degrades hardworking women like her. While she was clearly outraged by this line, it seems her fan base may have been even more outraged…

Link to tweet taken from Buzzfeed News

Taylor Swift continues to be a subject of sexist jokes because of her extensive dating life. Personally, while I feel the comment made in this show is quite offensive to Taylor Swift, I would like to think that was not the intention of the writers of the show. However, that does not excuse the behavior. This line in the episode contributes to the ongoing issue of “s**t-shaming” happening in our world. Women are continuously degraded, criticized, devalued, etc. if they have an extensive amount of relationships with men or women. Having a popular Netflix series feed into this issue definitely does not help with the movement to stop it. So, I stand with Taylor Swift here. 

WEEK 6 (2/22-2/24)

Power Inversions
When looking at the Twitter account @manwhohasitall, I compiled a list of some of my favorite tweets of his: 

So, what it would be like for certain power relations to be reversed? What does it suggest about the nature of gender power?  How do inversions show up the issues we’re still contending with?

As we can see in these tweets that mock what it would be like for power relations to be reversed, it seems the whole “gender world” would be flipped upside down. Society would be completely different. The nature of gender power is very clear and concrete; each gender (male and female) is “prescribed” a certain set of characteristics and duties that have seemed to “stick” as years went on. When @manwhohasitall flips these gender roles, it feels strange and “off.” I think this definitely tells us something about the nature of gender power. Additionally, it makes it clear that these gender inversions are still completely relevant. However, I think it is interesting to see the ways in which they are more challenged in this current historical moment because of the fluidity that is now being given to the concept of “gender.” For example, should a woman that identifies as a woman but has the reproductive parts of a male adopt the gender inversions of a man or woman? In some way, this complexity is helping to erase or combat this natural gender power, which is definitely a good thing.

WEEK 5 (2/15-2/17)

What does the storm on the Capitol and the insurrection tell us about the need for Intersectionality?
When discussing this question, I think that in order to identify the need for intersectionality, it is important to look at this storm on the Capitol versus the BLM protests this past year in terms of police response. CNN sums up these police responses here.
Image result for storm on the capitol and intersectionality

Taken from CNN

When people in the Black Lives Matter rallies were fighting for human rights and justice, they were beaten and given an extreme, aggressive response from police. 

“‘When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets,’ the group said in a statement. ‘Make no mistake, if the protesters were Black, we would have been tear gassed, battered, and perhaps shot.'”

“Before Trump made his remarks at the Rose Garden last June, police near the White House released tear gas and fired rubber bullets at protesters in an effort to disperse the crowd for the President’s planned visit to the St. John’s Episcopal Church. Earlier in the day, Trump had encouraged the nation’s governors to more aggressively target protesters in their states.”
on June 2ND, 2020…
“Members of the DC National Guard, armed and wearing camouflage uniforms, stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last June, as crowds of demonstrators held a peaceful protest following several days of demonstrations. During Wednesday’s events, rioters had already made it inside the building before the DC National Guard was activated.”
ON JUNE 3RD, 2020

“protesters in Washington, DC, repeatedly faced tear gas. Many were detained. One protest led to 88 arrests. By comparison, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said [during the storm on the capitol] that police have made 52 arrests — 26 of which were made on US Capitol grounds.”

But, when the people that stormed the Capitol last month were threatening marginalized populations and spreading disinformation, the police did next to nothing.

“A livestream video of the Wednesday’s events appears to show a Capitol Hill police officer taking a selfie with a rioter inside the building.”


“Pro-Trump protesters pushed past metal fences and breached the US Capitol building, walking throughout the complex for several hours.”

This distinction highlights the need for intersectionality almost clearly; considering all aspects of the people involved in these two events (race, status, gender, etc.) will help us to see the differences in the ways in which these two groups are treated by societal forces and institutions (like police).

Because it is extremely clear that the mostly white population, seen BELOW, is treated much differently than…
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